Over the weekend, more than 47 people were killed in an attack on a line of people waiting at a food distribution point at a refugee camp in Kohat in northwest Pakistan. On Sunday, another bombing targeted a Pakistani police station in the town of Billitung, killing seven and wounding around two dozen. And yesterday, two explosions struck the city of Peshawar, killing at least 23 people and wounding 42. All of these bombings were perpetrated by suicide bombers. Daniyal Noorani recently wrote and released a single entitled, “Find Heaven,” on YouTube, which addresses the recruitment of young militants (see Dawn’s interview with him here). Below, he discusses his inspiration behind the song, (to see the Urdu version, “Jannat Pao Gaye,” click here):
When Kalsoom asked me whether I would write a piece on my music video, Find Heaven, I was hesitant and I felt as if I would be tooting my own horn. But then I took a moment to think about it and realized that this was an opportunity to tell how the song came about and why I made it.
I could tell you that I sat down one day with the intention of not moving till I wrote a song that addressed the issue of extremism in Pakistan, but that would be a lie. The lyrics for “Find Heaven” was a moment of inspiration. That being said, during those days I was clearly disturbed by the events that were transpiring in Pakistan. Suicide bombings were happening on a daily basis and the subsequent public opinion, at best, was apathetic. I was wrestling both with my faith and understanding of religion. I even tried to start a blog, Forgotten Islam, as a way to try and voice my thoughts. The subject of extremism and terrorism was clearly on my mind.
While writing “Find Heaven” I thought of it more as a narrative and story which highlighted society’s failing as opposed to thinking of it as a statement against the extremists. The goal of the song and video was more to highlight how the impoverished people of Pakistan are being manipulated and taken advantage of for the gain of a few. Given the current situation in Pakistan at that time, I thought it pertinent to use the extremists in this video. But the whole narrative would still be valid if the extremists were replaced by politicians who offered the impoverished people a form of Heaven via power, fame and money.My focus was on showing how society’s flaws force the main character to choose a certain path and that this problem of extremism is more an issue of society’s failing than that of religious ideologies clashing.
The hope that I had from this video was that people would start to ask difficult and uncomfortable questions. Why were the extremists the only one reaching out to the main character? Why don’t we have society where there is justice and equality? Where is the God in what the extremists are doing? Why aren’t we, ourselves, doing anything to stop this? I believe that once we, as a society, honestly start asking ourselves these questions, we can begin to move forward. Because one can only get to an answer if they ask a question.
The contribution is the sole opinion of the author and does not necessarily represent the opinion of CHUP. If you would like to contribute a piece to CHUP, please email Kalsoom at changinguppakistan[at]gmail[dot]com. Pieces should be no longer than 800 words please. For past contributions, click here.